Shopping, seduction and ...
Well, we really could go anywhere after an introductory title like that, but the words which actually complete the phrase in the title are “Mr Selfridge”. I am sure, like me, you enjoyed the TV series screened earlier this year about the efforts of Mr Selfridge to set up an innovative shopping experience in London at the start of the twentieth century.
I enjoyed the TV series so much that my teenage daughter bought me a copy of Lindy Woodhead’s excellent book “Shopping, Seduction and Mr Selfridge”. Harry Gordon Selfridge was quite the man; one part genius, one part gambler, several parts ambitious businessman, topped off with an unhealthy dollop of philandering. But what he excelled at was creating the shopping experience. Not only did he build the first purpose built department store in London’s West End and fill it with the kind of delights that would excite any normal woman, he truly seemed to understand what could make shopping fun. This was in an era when shopping was anything but fun, yet he made goods accessible – both physically and financially – and attractive.
Of course, over a hundred years later, we have gone through yet another shopping transformation. The internet has made shopping fun in a very different way – it’s true that you cannot touch the products (at least not instantaneously), but you can see them at any time of the day or night, order them for next day – or at least, that week – delivery, and witness models wearing your ideal outfit in high resolution shots from every imaginable angle.
So have we made progress? What is your ideal shopping environment? A large department store where you can feel and touch everything? The internet, with its price comparison options and ease of use? Or are you, like me, partial to a little bit of both?